Over 65% of Covid-19 deaths that have occurred in Bengaluru since July 1 — when cases and mortalities in the city began rocketing — happened within 24 hours of hospital admission or involved patients who were already dead when brought to hospital, an analysis of daily health bulletins put out by the Karnataka government shows.
Bengaluru saw 860 coronavirus-linked deaths between July 1 and July 28. Of these, 479 (55%) died within 24 hours of hospital admission while 94 (10%) were declared dead on arrival, shows the data, that includes date of admission in each case and date of death in case of fatalities.
The data also shows that all the patients who died within 24 hours of hospitalisation had been admitted in a state of breathlessness.
Dr K S Sathish, a pulmonologist and member of the Covid-19 state death audit panel, said patients were showing up at hospitals very late. “This is always a big issue — the patient is not diagnosed and visits the hospital at the eleventh hour,” he said.
“Out of the 50 deaths at our hospital, as many as 21 were within 12 hours of admission, including many within three hours. Five to six patients were brought dead. Nearly 70% of deaths occurred within three days of ventilation in ICU. This is a sign that patients are arriving in hospital very late,” said Dr C Nagaraja, the director of the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases, one of the government-run hospitals treating coronavirus cases. Nagaraja is also a member of the death audit panel.
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Of the 91 deaths reported till July 15 at the Victoria Hospital attached to the Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, 39 occurred within 24 hours of admission, including several within 10 hours, the nodal officer for the Covid-19 core committee at the institute, Dr Smitha Segu, said.
“Of the patients who came on time, very few went into ICU,” Dr Segu said.
Several instances of severely ill patients being turned away from hospitals have been reported in Bengaluru. While the government has put in place a central bed allocation system, there are only about 100 ICU beds available in the government sector still, against a requirement of over 500. Private medical colleges and hospitals have been roped in only recently.
Between March and July 28, Bengaluru recorded 957 deaths, 860 of them in July alone. Of its total 48,821 cases, as many as 44,266 were reported this month, of which 35,102 cases were active on July 28.
While Bengaluru’s data of 95.3 deaths per million population is nearly three times the state’s toll of 31.8 per million (the city accounts for nearly half of Karnataka’s total cases), the case fatality rate is almost the same, at 2%.
An early analysis of Covid-19 deaths in Karnataka till June had also identified late arrival at hospitals, apart from age and comorbidities, as key factors. Data between March 10 and early June of 72 deaths showed that elderly persons with Severe Acute Respiratory Infections were more likely to succumb to the novel coronavirus than other categories.
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